Blithe Spirit by Synergy Theatre, Clinton Centre, Seaford, Saturday, February 15
Synergy Theatre made a welcome return to Seaford’s Clinton Centre with this classic Noel Coward comedy. Written by the ’The Master’ in 1941, it has never lost its appeal.
A new version, with a star cast, opens in the West End on March 1.
But any production has to balance Coward’s wit with the preposterous story and the mores of the time when the play was written.
It is to director David Parton’s credit that he managed this admirably and produced a pacy performance of which any local company would be justifiably proud.
Stephen Newberry as Charles Condomine, a well-heeled novelist who desires a hands-on séance to learn about the occult for a book he is writing, and Susanne Crosby as his wife, Ruth, were a wholly believable ’40s couple, never better than when squabbling about each other’s past lives.
Their friends, Dr and Mrs Bradman, John Hamilton and Josie Hobbs, were fine counterpoints, supremely suburban and not having a clue about what was going on.
Sue Shephard, all swivelling eyes, flapping hands and ethereal dancing, as eccentric medium Madame Arcati, who “feels happier after a trance”, was masterful and mesmerising.
When she inadvertently summons up Charles’ deceased first wife, Elvira (Aruna Murishwar), from the “other side”, the play develops into a drawing-room farce.
The audience, and Charles, can see and hear her, a ghost, but this benefit is not afforded to anyone else, especially Ruth.
When she too has an accident and dies, Arcati has the task of separating the two wives, still bickering, before performing an on-stage exorcism.
Edith (Abigail Cobby), Condomine’s maid, constantly runs in and out and, by a twist, is on hand to allow Elvira and Ruth to return to their spirit lives.
This was a cleverly staged production of a famous play, complete with spooky special effects as a finale.